The messy contract talks between Texas Tech and football coach Mike Leach took another curious turn Friday.
Earlier in the week after Leach's representatives at IMG took issue with Tech adding four additional terms to the school's offer of a new five-year deal worth $12.7 million and proposed a deal for the same price but with the same terms the Red Raiders coach has on his current deal. Athletic director Gerald Myers responded by saying the problem with that would be that it would make firing Leach harder:
"This 'so called' proposal is simply an offer for us to guarantee that coach Leach could never be fired," Myers said in a statement. "It would cost us a maximum of $4.4 million if we wanted to change coaches in the first year. It would cost Texas Tech millions in subsequent years of his five-year contract.
"If Leach left Tech he would only pay Tech $500,000. Our proposal is a fair offer of $12.7 million for five years. Both Leach and Texas Tech would pay the same annually decreasing buyout figures. Leach's agents' proposal is not fair. We will not even respond to such a proposal."
Leach's representatives at IMG declined to respond publicly to Myers' statement. Leach is out of the country this weekend, in Wales attending a rugby match.
On Wednesday night, Leach said he was ready to sign a new five-year contract with Texas Tech before the university tossed in new terms to its final offer. The aforementioned terms were:
• That if he is fired, his contract is only guaranteed for 12 percent. Texas coach Mack Brown, Oklahoma's Bob Stoops, Kansas State's Bill Snyder and Kansas' Mark Mangino are all guaranteed for 100 percent, while the league average is 55 percent. Leach's current contract puts his guaranteed portion at 40 percent.
• Leach's current buyout, which is $500,000, would increase to $1.5 million (Brown, Stoops, Snyder and Mangino do not have buyouts.)
• Leach would have to receive permission from Texas Tech to speak with another school or risk owing Tech $1.5 million.
• All of the money from his personal speaking properties, whether he makes an appearance or authors a book on his life in Wyoming, would go to Tech.
As part of their counter offer, Leach and IMG had said the coach would notify Texas Tech if another school wanted to speak with him about a potential job offer.
Bruce Feldman is a senior writer with ESPN The Magazine.